July 9, 2015 | By Alec

Of all the initiatives and developments in the 3D printing world, none have caused as much headaches as 3D printed guns. Especially law makers in the US have been scratching their heads about what to do with them in regards to the second amendment. Should they be banned because they are impossible to keep track of? But it looks like a solution is on the horizon, because the US State Deparment has proposed revisions to International Traffic in Arms which will, among other things, effectively outlaw 3D printed guns.

Up to now, responses to the theoretical dangers of 3D printed guns have been mixed. Of course Japan sent a student to jail last year in a highly publicized case,but little has been done in the US. California recently passed aGhost Gun bill, but it remains unclear how that will be implemented. Lawmaker Steve Israel’s (D-New York) 2013 bill to prohibit the manufacturing of 3D printed guns failed to be adopted. In the absence of clear laws, FedEx and UPS took it upon themselves to refuse shipping machines to infamous 3D printer of guns Defense Distributed. The company’s founder Cody Wilson of course became famous in his own right by developing a 3D printed gun that can fire multiple .380 caliber rounds. The blueprints for this and other guns were distributed through his website and were a huge hit.

But this new initiative should make things clearer than ever before. The revisions – which can be found here – essentially focus on the digital transmission of technical data.  The State Department has revealed that these new rules would restrict exactly what information can be exported out the US, and posting schematics for 3D printable guns is obviously one way in which military data is exported. In the public notice, the State Department defends the revision of the definition of an export as an attempt to ‘remove activities associated with a defense article's further movement or release outside the United States, including any technical data posted on the Internet.’

In accordance with the law, US citizens have the right to respond to the propsed changes by emailing DDTCPublicComments@state.gov with the following subject line: ITAR Amendment -Revisions to Definitions; Data Transmission and Storage. Comments will be accepted until 3 August 2015.

The timing of this revision is interesting, as Defense Distributed has been reappearing in the news over the last few days. Wilson and his team of lawyers – financed by a number of Second Amendment lobby groups – have been seeking to take this very issue to court. Over two years ago, the State Department ordered Wilson to remove his blueprints, but is now citing the First, Second and Fifth Amendments to defend his plastic guns. In an attempt to steer public opinion, he even appeared on Fox News last week to accuse the Obama administration of seeking to control public speech about guns on the Internet.

In a court in Texas this week, Wilson’s attorneys filed a preliminary injunction to halt this particular reading of the International Traffic Arms Regulations by focusing on free speech. 'Americans have always been free to exchange information about firearms and manufacture their own arms,’ Alan Gottlieb, SAF executive vice president, told guns.com. ‘“We also have an expectation that any speech regulations be spelled out clearly, and that individuals be provided basic procedural protections if their government claims a power to silence them.’

However, the outcome of this lawsuit and the rule changes are difficult to predict. ‘I can imagine any number of ways this might get decided and the judge could imagine a few others,’ Alan Gura, the lead attorney behind Defense Distributed’s case, said. ‘There’s really no way to predict the outcome.’ But taking the proposed revisions to the law into account, it seems like the legal status of 3D printed guns will be decided in the near future. 


Posted in 3D Printing Applications



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Jeff wrote at 7/23/2015 5:55:37 PM:

Banning the sharing of schematics for 3D printable guns will be about as effective as banning drugs or prohibiting the pirating of music.

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